Dare to imagine

Walking past Summerhall (formerly home to the vet school of the University of Edinburgh) I saw an art installation outside by Mexican installation artist Antonio O’Connell called “Virus”. I took photographs and examined it from different angles before reading his note on it. O’Conell states that that we live in a “contrasting world – where imagination is a luxury for some but a necessity for others”.

I immediately thought of the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in his brilliant book “Le Petit Prince” (The Little Prince), which has a theme of while children have imagination that is capable of understanding the essence of things, grown-ups have had their imaginations encumbered by attachment to the quantifiable. They have lost the curiosity of childhood, and their lives are bound by the here and now. What we see with our eyes is merely a shell; the essential reality of things is detected only by the heart.

I first read the book in French around twenty years ago and is still one of my all time favourites. As a deep thinker with a vivid and visual mind I can see this still true of now. I have a curtains that are a mix of blue flowers, which I swear the leaves spell life or love at one point! Equally, I agree with O’Connell that it has become a luxury as we too often do not take the time to look or read with the creatives or artisans that try to look beyond the boundaries and make us do the same.

If we do not know the answer to what a child has asked us we probably look the answers up on the internet so can explain it in a way they understand. My favourite time of year is autumn, I remember asking my great uncle and later my biology teacher what was happening, despite understanding the science I see it as part of nature’s art. I love the idea that the deciduous trees are the girls of the forests where as the boys are the evergreens; the girls are in all their different coloured dresses ready for the autumn ball, but like Cinderella must disappear at midnight, hence they fall off the trees.

I think using our imaginations as to understand and appreciate what is happening in what we see, read, hear, feel, smell and taste is important as lets us experience more from this world than we can from a book or the internet alone.This in part is why do I not work in a laboratory now; I would be imagining the environment changing as I worked, the seeds or pollen from a particular tree telling me it was growing around 2000 years ago to the present day. The world is an infinite art gallery, with innumerable works of art.

Let your imagination lose, don’t be afraid of being “silly” or “childish”, it’s what matters to and part of you. For example, water from a tap, does it not tickle the fingers or is sand on a beach the stars of the ground? Meanwhile, I’m off to find beech (Fagus sylvatica) seeds that have parachuted from the trees by my house and think of what the escape from each year, perhaps taking some photographs of them too.

© Fi S. J. Brown

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The big question(s)

As part of the Edinburgh art festival a couple of installations have sprung up in the Grassmarket area of the city asking several questions. Here are the questions with my answers to them, have a think how you would answer them, welcome to leave yours in the comments below.

We are all going on a journey but before you set out:
1. Where do you come from?
2. Where do you do you feel is home?
3. Where do you belong?
4. Where are your roots?
5. Do you know where you’re going?
6. How will you know when you have arrived?
7. What is it like there?

1. I grew up in this city but do not feel part of it, I have moved away and she called me back a few times, when I had no choice but to return to her, always with a heavy sigh and heart.
2. I have yet to find my true home as nowhere calls me other than when I am at one with nature listening to birdsong, watching trees dancing in the wind and streams laughing from tickles of the rocks below them. I feel like the dog in the television series “the littlest hobo” and maybe tomorrow I will want to settle down.
3. I belong nowhere I have yet lived in Scotland, England or Italy, but felt happiest when not in Scotland. I am a free spirit that belongs among the natural world or in a landscape painting of days gone by.
4. My roots are a mix of England and Scotland, so maybe I am British rather either as both are marked by a line on the map, the course of the River Tweed. I love this island’s nature and landscapes.
5. I have no idea where I am going in life, but part of what I love about life is living in the moment, as can change for better or worse in an instant and what happens tomorrow will happen, I cannot change that just as I cannot change the past.
6. I will know when my instincts tell me and feel at peace with myself, those I love, my surroundings and doing what I enjoy best in life.
7. Full of nature, music, art, laughter and endless love for all.

© Fi S. J. Brown